Why I Avoid Ingesting Aluminum and Stepping on a Rattlesnake with Equal Fervor


The reason is simple: Stepping on a ticked-off rattlesnake or ingesting too much aluminum, either one, will introduce poison into the human body that the human body could really do without.

For every study pointing out the dangers of getting too much aluminum in your system (you can’t avoid having some), there are “debunkers” willing to swear up, down, and sideways that no-no-no, aluminum can’t harm you, whatever you don’t need is flushed out through the kidneys. They’ll admit that if your kidneys don’t work right, yeah, that’s a problem, but not otherwise.

Why am I not surprised that some of these counter-studies have been done by Aluminum Associations whose livelihood depends on selling aluminum?

Most importantly, aluminum has never been shown to be essential in any way for the human body (including the brain) to function effectively. Some studies of dead folks who’d had Alzheimers showed unusually high levels of aluminum in the victims’ brains. Other, later studies have tried to pooh-pooh those findings, but no. Too much of anything is detrimental. Why expose oneself any more than necessary to a metal that’s not needed at all?

Then there’s the knowing factor. No scientist will give such a thing the time of day, but I live by it…and I know aluminum is deathly toxic at high enough levels.

And I’m not alone. There are others out there who believe as I do. Example: Elson M. Haas, MD, in a Staying Healthy With Nutrition article (Celestial Arts, 1991), had this to say about the toxicity of aluminum:

Methods of toxicity: Aluminum is probably the least toxic of the minerals discussed in this section, although the concern is that it has become so pervasive and is now found in higher levels in human tissues. It is not clear how aluminum functions or interferes with activities in the human body, possibly through some magnesium functions. It may reduce vitamin levels or bind to DNA, and it has been correlated with weakened tissue of the gastrointestinal tract. In Alzheimer’s disease, there are increased aluminum levels in the brain tissue and an increase in what are called “neurofibrillary tangles,” which tend to reduce nerve synapses and conduction.

Oral aluminum, as obtained from antacids, can bind pepsin and weaken protein digestion. It also has astringent qualities, and thus can dry the tissues and mucous linings and contribute to constipation. Regular use of aluminum-containing deodorants may contribute to the clogging of underarm lymphatics and then to breast problems such as cystic disease. Ann Louise Gittleman, a prominent nutritionist, calls aluminum a “detrimental protoplasmic poison.”

A review of the literature indicates that anything more than 20 parts per million (ppm) is considered to be above “normal” (i.e. healthy)–in human hair, anyway–and that less is better. So, it sounds like the rattlesnake analogy is right on; the less of that you have in your body, the better, same as aluminum.

But if you do get too much, especially way too much, what might the symptoms of severe aluminum toxicity be? Eh?

Oh, just a few little things. Besides Alzheimer’s (100,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers die each year), there are documented cases of, let’s see, now…

    Kidney and liver gone to fat

    Anorexia, irritated gut and that

    Is just the beginning, don’t you know

    Numbness, paralysis, on we go

    Loss of bone and softening, too

    Constipation before you’re through

    Problems with your nasty skin

    Lack of energy deep within

    Nausea and the deep need to hurl

    That’s just a glimpse of Aluminum World!

My wife suffers from every one of the symptoms on the list, excluding paralysis (thankfully) but including Alzheimer’s. Could it be that her system does not flush excess aluminum as efficiently as it should? Or that she has been exposed to much higher aluminum intake levels over the years? Or both?

My guess would be both. Pam had rheumatic fever as a young (preschool) child, a severe case that kept her out of action for more than a year and nearly killed her in the process. As a result, her immune system is severely compromised, perhaps not as badly as an HIV positive individual, but nearly so. Logically, her system problems could certainly extend to the elimination of metals from her body. As for intake, she was not even aware of the need for aluminum avoidance until after we met 17 years ago, whereas I’d been “on it” since the 1970’s.

Next question: How do I avoid ingesting aluminum?

Well, first of all, the avoidance practice requires obsessive label reading and involves more than just swallowing stuff. Most deodorants, for example, use aluminum hydroxide as a key ingredient. Not all, though; Tom’s of Maine puts out a product that contains no aluminum, and that’s what’s in my Dopp kit.

Deodorant by Tom's of Maine, my choice because it lacks aluminum.

Deodorant by Tom’s of Maine, my choice because it lacks aluminum.

Some months back, I switched away from coffee and began drinking herbal teas instead. My lymph glands had started acting up, overdosing on coffee seemed a likely suspect as the proximate cause, and there were plenty of tea flavors on the market.

Unfortunately, most of the herbal tea companies out there use aluminum foil packets to protect their tea bags. It was heartbreaking (in a minor way) to discover that Bigelow does this, as does Denny’s for their orange spice tea.

The amount of aluminum acquired from foil packets rubbing against tea bags might be miniscule, but still.

Fortunately, Celestial Seasonings does not use aluminum foil in their packaging, so that’s the brand–and the only brand–I’ll touch. This evening, I’ve already downed a mug of Cinnamon Apple Spice and a mug of spearmint tea. (The spearmint is stocked in bulk and purchased from Amazon–and selected from a bulk spearmint farmer who does not use foil packaging.)

Celestial Seasonings is the only locally available brand of herbal tea that does not use aluminum foil packaging.

Celestial Seasonings is the only locally available brand of herbal tea that does not use aluminum foil packaging.

Cookware is a big issue. I’ve been avoiding aluminum skillets, pots, pans, tea kettles, coffee pots, knives, forks, and spoons for more than 40 years as of this writing. We did have one Teflon coated skillet that was made of aluminum beneath the Teflon, but the instant the first scratch through the coating appeared, that frying pan was retired.

With that exception, everything else in the cookware category is made of either stainless steel or, in a few cases, cast iron–neither of which contain any aluminum in the composition of the alloy.

Eating utensils are either stainless steel or, when we’re feeling too lazy to wash dishes, plastic.

My favorite cast iron skillet hangs on a nail right next to the kitchen range.  Cast iron contains iron, carbon, and silicon--but most importantly, no aluminum.

My favorite cast iron skillet hangs on a nail right next to the kitchen range. Cast iron contains iron, carbon, and silicon–but most importantly, no aluminum.

Does all this aluminum avoidance make any real difference?

If you ask that question of enough people, you’ll get a lot of different–and often conflicting–answers. For my part, I see it this way: I’ve been practicing aluminum avoidance for the last four decades, and so far (knock on wood), I’m not experiencing any of the symptoms associated with aluminum toxicity. Thus it comes back to one of my life mottoes:


The same approach applies to rattlesnake venom avoidance.

6 thoughts on “Why I Avoid Ingesting Aluminum and Stepping on a Rattlesnake with Equal Fervor

  1. I heard about the problem with aluminum many years ago, and we purged my mom’s pots and pans. She had some really nice cast aluminum and we threw them away because of it. They had some heft to them and things did not burn in them. They got replaced by cast iron and stainless steel.
    Cast iron is really good to use, because you get minuscule amounts of iron from the food that is cooked in it. Rarely does someone that uses cast iron become anemic. I really wish I could use it because Katy is almost always anemic. We have to have her on iron pills. She really hates taking them. She thinks they taste nasty. I will gift her with my grandmother’s cast iron when she gets her own home.
    I gave Rodger some newer cast iron when he got married, but his ex has it now. I will get him some newer cast iron when I can. I find it at yard sales and flea markets all the time.
    I wrote an article about taking care of it about a year and a half ago. I learned how to take care of it from my dad and grandmother.

  2. It was your Hub on taking care of cast iron that “reminded” me to go get myself a new cast iron skillet.

    Katy’s dislike for the taste of iron pills does puzzle me a bit. I get a shot of anemia every once in a while (detected by eyeballing my big toes–if there’s no color at all, I’m low on iron), so I keep a bottle of Gentle Iron by Nature’s Bounty on an office shelf. I hardly ever need it for more than a week at a time, which is good. But it comes in capsules, no taste whatsoever that I can tell.

  3. I never knew that antacids and deodorant contain aluminum. I just checked my tube of antiperspirant and sure enough – it’s the active ingredient! I’ve been thinking of switching to Tom’s. Now I know I will. Thanx for the info, Ghost!

  4. You’re welcome, Sha. Pam seldom even needs deodorant–she seldom sweats or stinks at all, no clue why–but I’ve been using Tom’s since at least the early ’90’s. The company has been 84% owned by Colgate-Palmolive since 2006 (Tom & Kate Chappell raked in $100 mil for the sellout and also retained 16%), but the sale stipulated that Tom’s way of doing things (natural only, no harmful ingredients, none that have been tested on animals, etc.) would stay in place.

    So far, so good.

  5. Katy has a problem taking capsules. The ones she takes are in pill form. They really smell bad and they taste worse. It would be nice if she could take capsules. She can never get them to go down. She had a problem with getting pills to go down for a long time and we had to hide them in her food. Sounds like when we hide the dogs pills in some cheese, hahaha.

  6. Ah. That explains it. Not that it explains why she has such a problem with capsules, but yeah, iron in pill form is really nasty.

    I’ve not had to hide pills for a dog, mostly ’cause I’ve not had many dogs for very long over the years. But once there was this cat….

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